Friday, February 27, 2009

Guns, An American Promise, and a King James Bible

Today as I rode the elevator up to my apartment casually browsing through the mail I had just picked up, I stumbled upon this little jewel of an insert in the local ads.

I couldn't believe it.

Gun sales. An oath. Patriotism. American made quality and jobs...and a King James Bible.

Are you kidding me?

.My first impulse is to let my cynicism prevail and stereotype the target demographics of such an ad. But there are serious issues at stake.

Beyond profaning, what millions consider a sacred text by using it for advertising, the ad makes further uncomfortable associations between an oath, religion, patriotism, the perceived quality of American products and the sanctity of American jobs all used to market a weapon.

Now I am not opposed to hunting either. I am disturbed by the use of the Bible to market a gun. And actually...I am disturbed by the use of the Bible to market anything.

I wonder how would other religions react to such an ad? Would the Muslim world be upset to see their Koran used in a casual (and perhaps even well intentioned) advertisement? What about the Jewish communities? Would they allow the use of the Tanakh to market a gun or something else? My hunch is that they too would be upset.

One of the ironies here is that the Bible is clearly labeled "Holy Bible". "Holy" or "sacred" suggests that it is meant to be set apart from. Here a sacred text is used as a marketing tool within the market economy which runs in great contrast to the economy of God and grace.

I know that I am not the only one likely to be upset by this, but I wonder why more people are not upset. I posted the ad on Facebook and have had mixed reviews on whether it is offensive. People I consider thoughtful Christians come out on either side. What is it about this ad that irks me so?

Is it my sacramental sensibilities about the nature of "holy things"? Is it my general distaste for the market economy? Am I just a cynic who takes pleasure in critiquing the world around me? Perhaps. But then again, I cannot help but wonder if we have become so desensitized to marketing that we fail to see a transgression when it is in front of us. If the product were to change, would this then ruffle peoples feathers? Mentally go through a list of household items and consider the ad. Skittles. Tampons. Baking Soda. Motor Oil. Shampoo. Do any of these change your reaction to the ad?

Similarly, have we so domesticated the sense of the sacred that we no longer care how our sacred texts are used? I cannot help but to think of Stanley Hauerwas' provocative opening chapter of Unleashing Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America. He starts out saying,
"Most North American Christians assume that they have a right, if not an obligation, to read the Bible. I challenge that assumption. No task is more important than for the Church to take the Bible out of the hands of individual Christians in North America. Let us no longer give the Bible to all children when they enter the third grade or whenever their assumed rise to Christian maturity is marked, such as eigth-grade commencements. Let us rather tell them and their parents that they are possessed by habits too corrupt for them to be encouraged to read the Bible on their own.

North American Christians are trained to believe that they are capable of reading the Bible without spiritual and moral transformation. They read the Bible not as Christians, not as a people set apart, but as democratic citizens who think their 'common sense' is sufficient for 'understanding' the Scripture. They feel no need to stand udner the authority of a truthful community to be told how to read. Instead they assume that they have all the 'religious experience' necessary to know what the Bible is about. As a result the Bible inherently becomes the ideology for a politics quite different from the politics of the Church.

Note, it is not an issue of whether the Bible should be read politically, but an issue of which politics should be determining our reading as Christians." (p. 15)

As shocking as Hauerwas' statements are, there is part of me that wants to agree and particularly in connection to this ad. If the Bible would be taken from the democratic economy, perhaps it would regain its sacredness. Then, I suspect more people would be offended by ads such as this in its casual use of imagery and patriotic ideology. Do we so easily forget that this text contains the narrative of God's interaction with humanity, whereby we can come to know Jesus the Christ, inspired in some way by the Holy Spirit? Are we reading the scriptures with this weight upon us and upon the words, or have have they become so mundane that we no longer see them through an appropriate lens?

But then again, perhaps I am just a cynic who likes to critique everything around me.

More Thoughts on Hauerwas' The Peaceable Kingdom

Sometimes I imagine conversations with important folk. Its not an escapist exercise, but rather an exercise of critical thinking. How would this person respond to my questions. As I have been re-reading Hauerwas, I have several questions I would like to ask. One of the little things I would like to ask Dr Hauerwas is why he chooses to say that we appropriate the story rather than are appropriated into it.... it just seems highly susceptible to our individualistic tendencies. I have this image of a river picking up rocks and tumbling them down stream in the current. As they go, they are shaped and rounded by the water and other rocks. This is what I imagine happening as we are taken into the story. When we take story into our own hands we tend to spill it and remove pieces from the whole and the power of the current is lost in our handful of water.

Hauerwas is helpful in taking a realistic account of communities “attempts” (his words) at faithfully living the story. Understanding our sinfulness is a key aspect of understanding the story and God. A fundamental piece of the story is recognition of our sinfulness and that we are in process, thus our communities are in process as we try and often fail to live the story in a helpful manner.

Hauerwas makes a beautiful statement about the role of tradition, “to gratefully inherit a tradition is but to recognize and honor the chain of actual benefactors who have sustained the skills and stories that provide us with the means to know and live our lives as God’s creatures” (27). This cloud of witnesses that have gone before us struggled as we struggle now to become proficient in telling the story. We must recognize that we are part of a tradition, multiple traditions, that impact (and at times infect) our interpretations. Without recognizing our benefactors we are much more prone to be derailed in our attempts to understand and share the story. Perhaps the individualism our heritage fostered is why we have so many splinter heterodox groups in American history.

Carrying on in the role of tradition (his connection to McIntyre is quite obvious at these points) if the ethic is removed from the contextual story, we as its participants become “alienated from ourselves, we lose the ability to locate the history of which we are a part.” This is a wonderful and challenging statement. Our culture is one of purposeful amnesia. By forgetting we owe nothing to no one and we presume that we really can be autonomous individuals making up our life and ethic as we go along. We are our stories. We cannot leave our past behind with another move, another church, another spouse. It is who we are. When we have cast off our stories that give a grounding in a community or context we are lost. We may not like our storied past, but we cannot escape it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recent Work

This is one of the pieces I have been experimenting with lately in effort to age the overall image. This is a shot of the local elevator from this past summer in Lake Park, Iowa (my parents home). I think this really falls in quite nicely with my formal aesthetic and love of line and geometry. In black and white the image really pops with a wide tonal range...I think it is lovely. But this toned image really captures the old photo look I am after (minus the precision of the digital print).

I have also tried this toning method with my previous experiment of boiling the emulsion off the fiber backing which adds another dimension of aging.

Tomorrow I have the privilege to teach the undergrad. advanced photo class a few of these methods.

Oh...and if you wanna buy a print...I would be happy to sell one...or seven.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Education Notes

Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes
There is an interesting article on the NY Times site today (thanks to David O'Hara for the Facebook heads up) on students expectation for their grades. The article suggests that students feel a sense of entitlement to an A or B for simply completing the basic course work. Different folks have different theories on the reasons why from either teaching for test results in the previous education or parental pressure. I think this sense of entitlement extends far beyond the classroom...but that is another story. While I am not teaching at this time, I have heard from a number of GTA's here at the Univ. of ND that students have similar expectations. But then again, I have heard students say that in some courses that all students begin with an A and its their grade to lose. Here, that philosophy would seem to be feeding into a sense of entitlement with an A being given rather than earned. Anyway...interesting thoughts.

Transparent Boycott Target
Campuses across the country are wrestling with what it means to be green, some with great success. had an interesting article today on Washington University in St. Louis and their "Ban the Bottle" campaign to ban plastic bottles from campus. Part of the struggle is retraining our habits and what we have been "sold" in bottled water marketing.

"“Ban the bottle” has a certain ring to it. But at a number of campuses, activists aren’t focused on restricting the sale of bottled water – citing student choice – but instead have mounted educational campaigns and are distributing reusable bottles, fixing broken water fountains, making filters available, and otherwise acting to make tap water a more convenient and palatable option."

I thought this paragraph was particularly interesting.
"Industry executives, by contrast, say, first of all, that bottled water and tap aren’t the same, and that bottled water shouldn’t be singled out for protest — especially given obesity rates and the possibility that a student will reach for a Coca-Cola instead. “I’m a little confused by Washington University because all of the beverages that they sell on campus are in plastic bottles and contain mostly water, whether it’s a soda or even a beer. It seems unreasonable and short-sighted to single out bottled water, the healthiest beverage a student can buy,” said Tom Lauria, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association."

Yes, soda is not as healthy as water. But Tom, why should a student have to buy water at all? These are acts of stewardship in terms of ecology, but also our personal finances.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Recommendations

I've been working my way through several books lately preparing for my conference papers. A few of which are certainly notable. The first, Ecotopia The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video looks at photography and ecology. The text includes a nice roundtable discussion and works from 35+ artists. This is essentially the catalog from the show.

The second, Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes, looks at just that...suburban landscapes. Published by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, this is a collection of work and essays dealing with social life in the burbs. If you are interested in ideas of sprawl, consumption, bix box stores and what happens in the wake of commercialism under the veneer this is an excellent text.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Epiphany VI Thoughts

Mk 1:40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 41Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ 42Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

This weeks Gospel reading is a familiar one of Jesus healing some sort of skin disease. What struck me this week is the outcasts request and subsequent action. The leper, who is to yell "Unclean! Unclean!" anytime he is near others when in town asks to be made "clean." His interest seems to be with ritual purity according to Jewish tradition. Only by presenting himself to the priest post healing, could he re-enter the community, re-enter the life of the synagogue. After his request, Jesus stretches out his hand to touch him thus rendering Jesus unclean and likely surprising the man himself for this breach in ritual conduct.

We should also notice the different roles of Jesus and the priest. Can we assume that the priest was unable to make this man clean? Here then Jesus is set apart by his divine power to heal. One man could declare someone clean...the other could make someone clean.

So what is this texts connection to the season of Epiphany? Well, I would suggest here Jesus' power is being made manifest for all to see (too many in the original account in fact that he had to head back to the wilderness to escape).

Psalm 30 is a wonderful pairing with this gospel text today. We read of God's deliverance of healing to some one, of which we can easily imagine the leper reciting this.

2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

This is one of the most moving Psalms for me. It is both humbling and joyful. I am reminded of my constant need of Christ's healing and rescue, and for that,

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.

But I am still wondering, what do these passages have to do with us, for our Epiphany spirituality? If Epiphany is about the manifestation of Christ, Epiphany spirituality must be about the manifestation of Christ, through the Spirit, in us (collectively as Christ's body and individually). I cannot get past thinking about this passage from Luke 4 (Is. 61)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

This passage, as no others in the past few years, has cut this deeply. To me, this is our Epiphany spirituality, under the power of the Spirit, to continue to manifest Christ's power and favor to the poor, captives, blind, and oppressed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crucifixes in the Classroom

Yesterday as I was surfing the website and saw this story on Boston College who is facing some serious discussions about their efforts to put up crucifixes in the classrooms across campus. Now I can see why an institution like BC has issues with this if not all the professors are Catholic or even some other denomination. I suppose even some Christians might take offense at the presence of the crucifix in an educational setting. The thing I find interesting is that while many want plurality and "objectivity" in the classroom are trying to do so within a Catholic/Jesuit college environment. Both students and faculty are well aware of their history and beliefs when they apply to work or study there.

This is not a lone incident. I've heard a number of students make similar sorts of comments about Augustana College's preferences given toward Christianity. Augustana is a Lutheran ELCA school which, for the most part, is a progressive and open environment to explore religious and philosophical questions, or avoid them altogether. But at its heart it is a Lutheran School, funded by Lutherans, where you are not asked to sign a lifestyle contract nor attend worship, write or sign a credo of belief.

I cannot help but to wonder what is the responsibility of a private religiously affiliated school to provide ample space for religious pluralism? Likewise, at what point do faculty and students simply have to adjust and/accept the historical religious traditions of their given university? What is at stake for the university? What is at stake for faculty and students?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holy Cats II

Now I don't know why I am interested in stories of cat hoarding, but I am. Last July I posted on another such occurrence of 117 cats hoarded in an Omaha home. This story tops that one by exactly one cat. Now I realize that we are amidst a recession but I did not realize that cats were such a valuable commodity at times like these. I suppose if our currency completely fails and we are left to barter with felines, these folks will be the richest folks in the Midwest. This idea of hoarding animals is strange to me. Now I like cats. One, maybe two are ok. But when does a collection of cats turn into something like Hitchcock's birds?

Now on the more serious side for both human and cats...
The woman fits the classic profile of an obsessive-compulsive animal hoarder, "which is sad for both animals and owners," Streff said.
This is certainly a depressing state for any creature to live in. For the owners, motivated perhaps in some sort by compassion for lost animals, which is to be commended, still ends up inflicting them to one another in a very confined environment. What is the classic profile of an obsessive compulsive animal hoarder? What is so lacking in someones life that they collect animals? I cannot help but to wonder what their thought processes are?

The movement towards compassion for God's creation is commendable, if that is what motivates them regardless of if that language is chosen or not. Is it a sign of a lack of community that is sought out in animals? No real answers...just questions.

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Experiments

I put a couple of recent photographic experiments. The top image is of a garden sculpture and the bottom from the Chicago subway system. Both images have undergone heavy modification. Both printed out on digital photo paper by an Epson ink jet printer, boiled, rolled, and had the fiber backing removed. Once dried, I covered them in encaustic. The top image also is backed with gold leafing. They both were then mounted into a shadow matting and frame. Both are experiments rather than ending points. I am not sure where it will lead, but the process is producing some interesting results along the way. The top one is currently being shown in the UND Student Art show.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lectionary Texts for Epiphany 6, February 15, 2009

Over the past few weeks I have been attempting to study the lectionary readings a bit before Sunday morning. My hope is that I will be able to post a few thoughts on one or more of the upcoming texts each week and create a bit of dialogue of catholicity among those readers who follow the lectionary from week to week.

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Mark 1:40-45

Study helps from

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Theology and the Arts Programs

A few weeks back I posted links in the sidebar to several prominent Theology and the Arts academic programs including GTU, Andover Newton, Fuller, Duke, ITIA, Yale, Regent, and United Seminary. Over the past 10 years I have considered applying to each of the programs for a variety of reasons. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses.

One thing that I find curious is that most programs are academically focussed and only nominally arts focussed. Regent offers an occasional course in icon writing or painting. United, the most proximal for me, does have some studio space as well. One school not mentioned is Azusa Pacific's MFA program. I think they are the only evangelical Christian college that offers an MFA. From some conversations I have had with them they try hard to integrate theology into conversation with the process of art making. Additionally it seems to be a low-res. type of program (for better or worse).

My seminary experience in Sioux Falls comes from a line of thought that blends academics with practical experience of ministry. This sort of formation helps direct and remind academically minded folks that their work always exists for the church. I have pondered over the past few years, could there be a like-minded program that balances academic theology with practical artistic output? Rather than courses in preaching, pastoral care, and supervised ministry, artists could take courses in painting or printmaking or whatever their chosen medium along side traditional seminary courses of church history and theology, as well as, specific integration sorts of courses? Not only would this offer great resources for artists, but could help future pastors learn how to integrate the arts more effectively into the life of the ecclesia. This would not and could not replace a MFA from a university, but it could be an opportunity to give young artists a solid theological grounding from which to work.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Historical Jesus(es)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Bill Caraher, history professor at the University of North Dakota speak to the campus ministry groups about the historical Jesus. Earlier in the day he posted on his blog about his intents. While you can read the entirety of his post on the blog, I wanted to interact with a smaller section of it.

"I will emphasize that simply placing Jesus in his ancient context does not necessarily produce a more "historically accurate" depiction of Jesus "the man". In fact, placing Jesus in an ancient context runs the risk of impoverishing the great diversity and brilliance of the Christian traditions which created meaningful images of Jesus throughout the ages. Just as the ancient writers created a Jesus that was meaningful in their context, subsequent generations have contributed their own perspectives on the founder of Christianity.

If post-modern approaches to the past have taught us anything, it is to celebrate the plurality of meaning in the historical record. In the context of the historical Jesus, this opens the door to finding significance in a aspects of the historical figure of Jesus that might have been obscured by accretions of time, scholarly or popular neglect, or the overwhelming pressure of contemporary approaches and concerns. In fact, Christians often observe that Jesus is a figure who transcends time and context. By looking at Jesus historically -- that is through the eyes of history as a dynamic discipline as well as through time -- we have the chance to recognize Jesus in ways that destabilize our expectations, challenge our assumptions, and renews faith."

Bill fully admits his post-modern leanings, if the second paragraph had not clued you into that fact already. What I found interesting in the discussion was his referencing the various "Jesuses" that cultures have created in order to come to terms with the complexity and/or curiosity of who Jesus was (or was not). His contention is that these varieties of Jesus came from a pious attempt to understand rather than undermine. This process has continued up to the present day as various groups within and outside of traditional Orthodoxy grapple with who Jesus was and what that means for Christianity and beyond today. These meanings, or variously "flavored" Jesuses vary by culture and age. Not long ago, Brian McLaren, love him or hate him, pointed out that in his life time he has know 7 different Jesuses: Conservative Protestant Jesus, Roman Catholic Jesus, Eastern Orthodox Jesus, Liberal Protestant Jesus, Anabaptist Jesus, and Jesus of the Oppressed (from A Generous Orthodoxy).

Bill notes, "In fact, Christians often observe that Jesus is a figure who transcends time and context." I think Christians often have a mixed view of Jesus as somehow being a timeless figure untouched by culture...transcending time and place. And yet, we are quick to right former wrongs by noting that Jesus was Jewish in a First C. Mediterranean culture (though most have little to no idea what that means). Trouble seems to appear at every turn. How do we balance a historical figure, with a given context, that proclaimed a "timeless" message, with the limits of our knowledge of that culture, historical accretions, our own cultural biases?

As Bill, Susan and I walked back from the luncheon I mentioned that I felt the chorus of Jesuses were beneficial, if not absolutely necessary. This would suggest my post-modern leanings as well with an appreciation for the dynamics of plurality and my suspicion of genuine knowledge. But what about the timeless message in the Bible? It is there. I am just suspicious of knowing it in a conclusive and modern scientific way. From my perspective, that each of the historical periods, cultural biases, hermeneutical methods simultaneously clarify and obscure who Jesus is. And thus are needed to approximate a dynamic Jesus. The dialogue...the contest for meaning becomes the a central means for grappling with the lively implications of Jesus.

The risk here is that Jesus becomes an everyman where the elusive timeless message and meaning are bent willy-nilly. But again, here the process of constestation keeps Jesus alive and the constituent communities pursuing the depth and breadth of what cannot be fully encompassed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Zombies Ahead! Run!

Every once in a while a story will touch me so deeply. This particular one from MSN did just that. As I drive through these great midwestern towns and cities, I am often left pondering "how can I re-arrange these sign letters to make something more interesting or comical...or perhaps just juvenile and offensive?" I dream of placing lawn ornaments in compromising positions. Or adding the always classic "in bed" or "in my butt" to the end of billboard statements. So when I read this article from MSN, I knew I was reading about a more technologically advanced bird of a feather.

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 AAR/SBL Upper Midwest Regional Meeting Schedule

Last week was a busy one with presentations, papers, show deadlines and just daily life. I did recieve the schedule for the Upper Midwest Regional AAR meeting which was a good reminder to get to work on the New Topographics and Catholicity project. I am thankful, and a little intimidated that I am presenting this year on the first day and first battery of sessions. Last time I presented I was the second to last paper on the last day. This week I will be trying to get a few posts back to these topics.

Upper Midwest Regional Meeting
Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota
27-28 March 2009

9:00-1:00 Workshop (Room 230)
“Teaching Native American Religions as a Matter of Fact”
Michelene Pesantubbe, University of Iowa
Dennis Kelley, Iowa State University

11:00-1:00 SBL Graduate Student Seminar, “The Do’s and Don’t’s of Networking”

1:00-2:30 SBL Plenary Session:
Dr. Joel Kaminsky
“The Other in Late Biblical and
Early Rabbinic Texts”

2:45-4:15 First Sessions

4:15-4:30 Refreshment Break in the Atrium

4:30-6:00 Second Sessions

6:00-7:00 Reception in the Atrium

8:00-9:30 Coffee, Juice and Rolls in the Atrium

9:00-10:00 AAR Plenary Session:
Dr. Frederick Denny
“Perceptions of Islam and Muslims: Scholarship and Public Opinion over the Past Four Decades”

10:15-11:45 Third Sessions

12:00-1:15 Buffet Lunch and Business Meetings
(Olsen Campus Center)

1:30-3:00 Joint AAR/SBL Discussion:
“Teaching Reflectively in Theological Contexts”
Presiders: Amy Marga and Karoline Lewis, Luther Seminary
Stephen Brookfield, University of St. Thomas
Rolf Jacobson, Luther Seminary
Mary E. Hess, Luther Seminary
David J. Lose, Luther Seminary

3:00-3:15 Refreshment Break in the Atrium

3:15-4:45 Fourth Sessions
All sessions are in Northwestern Hall unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 9:00-1:00

Workshop: Teaching Native American Religions as a Matter of Fact (Room 230)
Facilitators: Michelene Pesantubbe, University of Iowa and Dennis Kelley, Iowa State University

This workshop will address the complex issues informing the development of an introductory Native American religious traditions course. Selecting thematic approaches, tribal cultures, and religious practices or ideas will be covered. Participants are encouraged to bring to the workshop their own course syllabi to share.

Friday, 2:45-4:15

Session 1: Christian Apocrypha
Presider: C.D. Elledge, Gustavus Adolphus College
A Fresh Look at Laodiceans
Richard Pervo, Independent Scholar
Jesus the Murder Victim: Appropriating Scripture in the Gospel of Peter’s Narrative of Deicide
Tim Henderson, Marquette University
From Meal to Morsel: An Anthropological Reading of Christian Eucharistic Practice in the First and Second Centuries C.E.
Cody A. Schmitz, University of Minnesota

Session 2: Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Presider: Juan Miguel Betancourt, University of St. Thomas
Reversed (Chrono)Logical Sequence in Isaiah: Some Implications for the Redaction of the Book
Eric Ortlund, Briercrest Seminary
Creation Traditions in Isaiah 40-66: Their Origin and Purpose
Douglas T. Mangum, University of Wisconsin—Madison
The Prophetic Lineage of Penitential Piety
Dale Patrick, Drake University

Session 3: Systematic Theology/Philosophy of Religion
Presider and Respondant: Paul Capetz, United Theological Seminary
“Resurrecting the Analogia Entis Debate?: A Response to John R. Betz”
Ry O. Siggelkow, University of St. Thomas
Gordon Kaufman vs. Karl Marx?: Alienation, Re-presentation, and the Commodification of Theology
Michael Andres, Northwestern College (Iowa)
“Religious Experience and its Metaphysical Foundation: A Necessary Connection”
Brian Pizzalato, Diocese of Duluth and Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, UK

Session 4: Religion, Arts and Culture: Logos, Place and Embodiment
Presider: Philip Stoltzfus, University of St. Thomas

Benedictus contra Dionysus: Music and Logos in Dialogue with Joseph Ratzinger
J. Andrew Edwards, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
Places of Memory: Philip Sheldrake and the New Topographic Legacy
Ryan Stander, University of North Dakota
Deforming and Reforming Beauty: Disappearance and Presence in the Theo-Political Imagination of Ricardo Cinalli
Kimberly Vrudny, University of St. Thomas

Session 5: Native American Religions
Presider: Dennis Kelley, Iowa State University
Representing Religion: Media Portrayal of the 1890 Ghost Dance
Sarah Dees, University of Iowa
Indigenous Knowledge Documentation Project (IKDO): The Morrison Sessions
Mark F. Ruml, University of Winnipeg
Reflections of Self: Presentations of the “Other” in the Early Modern Period
Ezra Plank, University of Iowa

Session 6: Historical Perspectives on Religion
Presider: Jim Kroemer, Marquette University
Three Contradictory Portrayals of Lady Jane Gray
Sherry Jordan, University of St. Thomas
Friends of Violence: Early Quaker Persecutions in England
Kari Thompson, University of Iowa
The German Christians in Print, 1933-45
Mary M. Solberg, Gustavus Adolphus College

Session 7: Undergraduate Session #1
Presider: Bruce Forbes, Morningside College
Nicky Kerr, Graceland University
Maria Bady, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh
Blood Theology: Race as Religion in the Contemporary Pagan Movement
Laura Jan Jones, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire

Session 8: Open Session
Presider: Lawrence H. Williams, Luther College
Natural Childbirth as Icon in an Iconoclastic Culture
Susan Windley-Daoust, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
Religion as a Source of Emotional and Material Support
Darin Mather, University of Minnesota
The Theological and the Political in an Era of Globalization: With Reflections on Ethics, Theology and Kant
Hans Gustafson, Claremont Graduate University

Friday, 4:30-6:00

Session 1: New Testament: Gospel Studies
Presider: Dan Scholz, Cardinal Stritch University
The Metanarrative Hermeneutic as the Understanding for an Ecclesial Theology
Ross Manders, Bethel University
The Cardiography of Biblical Narrative
Karl Kuhn, Lakeland College
Where has Yahweh Gone? Reclaiming Unsavory Images of God in New Testament Studies
James A. Metzger, Luther College

Session 2: Early Judaism and Judaic Studies
Presider: Michael Wise, Northwestern College
Jessica L. Tinklenberg de Vega, Morningside College
According to the Brothers: First-person Narration in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
Brian O. Sigmon, Marquette University
Naturally Unnatural? Women in Midrash
Sarah Imhoff, University of Chicago

Session 3: Systematic Theology/Philosophy of Religion
Presider and Respondant: Paul Capetz, United Theological Seminary
“The Bible and Mikhail Bakhtin's Philosophy of Polyphony. Towards a Non-Authoritarian and Trinitarian Theology of Scripture”
Sorle S. Hovdenak, Luther Seminary
Figural Time: Christian Figural Reading and the “Reciprocal Interiority” of Past, Present and Future
Matthew Gerlach, University of St. Thomas
“Maturity is Salvation”: The Will to Power in the Theological Ethics of Paul Lehmann
Christopher Holmes, Providence Theological Seminary

Session 4: Greek and Roman Religion
Presider: Philip Sellew, University of Minnesota
Thucydides’ Rationalizing Idea of Miasma in Book II of His History
Matthew Briel, University of Minnesota
Sacred Texts, Salvation, and the Derveni Papyrus in Light of Traditional Greek Religion
Justin J. Buol, University of Minnesota
Eternity and Divinity in Early Christian Philosophy
Daniel Lloyd, Marquette University
Session 5: Religion, Gender and Sexuality
Presider: C. Neal Keye, The College of St. Scholastica
(Body)Image is Everything: Reflections on Female Faith Identity from the Stories of Gender Project
Claire Bischoff, Emory University
Revisiting the Nicene Creed: A Feminist Perspective
Thomas Jackson, Luther Seminary
The Theopolitics of Motherhood: Deborah’s Song, Hannah’s Prayer, and Mary’s Magnificat as Responses to the ‘Other ’Mothers
Vicki Gaylord, Independent Scholar

Session 6: Religion and Science: History and Perspectives
Gregory Peterson, South Dakota State University
Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and the Acasual Connection Principle: A Case Study in Transdisciplinarity
Charlene P.E. Burns, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire
Social Darwinism, Racism, and a Theology of the Human Person
Marguerite L. Spencer, University of St. Thomas
Revisiting Explanation and Description in Religion and Science
Steven Lee, University of Wales Lampeter

Session 7: World Religions: Comparison, Conversation and Character
Need Presider
The Confucian Junzi and Global Ethics
Douglas P. Green, Independent Scholar
The Challenge of Chan 'Encounter Dialogue' Literature to the Speech Act Theory of Questions
Nathan Eric Dickman, University of Iowa
Comparative Theology and Its Possibilities in Three Moments
Peter Feldmeier, University of St. Thomas

Session 8: Undergraduate Session #2
Presider, Lori Brandt Hale, Augsburg College
A Question of Guilt: Religious Reaction to National Wrong in Postwar Germany
Jennifer Gonsalves, Concordia College—Moorhead
A Need to be a Little Less Luther-an: Luther, Jews and Contemporary Responses
Abby Ferjak, Augsburg College
Holding God to Account: The Anti-Theodicies of Job and Elie Wiesel
Katherine Chatelaine, St. Olaf College
Charles Buehler, Augustana College

Saturday, 10:15-11:45

Session 1: New Testament
Presider: Juan Hernandez, Bethel University
An Ironic Turn of “paradidomi”: Defining “His People” in Matthew 1:21
InHee Cho, Concordia University College of Alberta
Following a Trail of Bread Crumbs: A Study of Intertextuality
D. Mark Davis, Heartland Presbyterian Church
Forty Days and Forty Nights: The Gospel of Matthew (4: 1-11) and the Scriptures of Israel
Daniel M. Gurtner, Bethel Seminary

Session 2: Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Presider: David Penchansky, University of St. Thomas
Breaking the Baqbuq as Ritual Analogy: A Prophetic Action in Jeremiah 19 and its Ancient Near Eastern Context
Katherine S. D. Brink, University of Chicago
Birds of a Feather? The Doves of Genesis 15 in Light of Leviticus
Paul G. Monson, Marquette University
Rhetorical Reversal and Usurpation: Isaiah 10:5-34 and the Use of Neo-Assyrian Royal Ideology in the Construction of Anti-Assyrian Theology
Michael Chan, Luther Seminary

Session 3: Systematic Theology/Philosophy of Religion
Presider and Respondant: Courtney Wilder, Midland Lutheran College
Bondage, Lights, and the Good News: The Need for Proclamation in the Bondage of the Will
Erick Thompson, Lutheran School of Theology—Chicago
"On the Limits of an Ecumenism of Convergence: The Role of Anthropology in Gerhard Ebeling's Rejection of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification"
Scott Celsor, Marquette University
Reinhard Hütter’s Concrete Catholicity: Sic et Non
Kimlyn Bender, University of Sioux Falls

Session 4: Religions of North America
Presider: Murphy Pizza, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
The Varieties of Ultimate Concern at Jonestown and Waco
Dan Morris, University of IowaViolent Communication and the Limits of Tolerance
Ryan T. O’Leary, University of Iowa
The Future from Your Point of View: Science Fiction and the Limits of Exemplary Dualism in Our Approach to New Religious Movements
Douglas FitzHenry Jones, University of Iowa

Session 5: Conversation with Frederick Denny
Presider: Bruce Forbes, Morningside College

Session 6: Historical Perspectives on Religion
Presider: Jim Kroemer, Marquette University
“Obeyed Like a God”: A Case Study on Rhetorical Violence in 19th Century Anti-Mormon Novels
Peter J. Yoder, University of Iowa
Revivalism and Social Concern: An Examination of Charles G. Finney’s Involvement in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement
Rebecca Meier-Rao, Marquette University
An American Catholic Response to Racism and Discrimination
Anthony M. Bonta, Marquette University

Session 7: Teaching the Bible and Religion
Presider: Karoline Lewis, Luther Seminary
Bible School for Public School Teachers: Biblical Scholarship, Teacher Training, and the Teaching of the Bible in Public Schools
Nathan Raybeck, University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign
Service Learning as Tool in Teaching Benedictine Values: A Case Study
Suzanne Hequet, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
Seminary Secrets: How Foundationalism, Faith Stage, and “God Genes” Affect Students’ Reactions to Scholarly Analysis of Scripture
Julie Black Harder, Independent Scholar

Session 8: Undergraduate Session #3
Presider: Jessica L. Tinklenberg de Vega, Morningside College
Gnosticism in the Johannine Prologue
Amanda R. Morrow, Morningside College
Abraham’s Seed and the Hermeneutical Agility of the Apostle Paul
Justin Pannkuk, Northwestern College (Iowa)
Holly Pederson, Simpson College

Saturday, 3:15-4:45

Session 1: New Testament
Presider: Juan Hernandez, Bethel University
The God of Glory in the Johannine Prologue (1:1-18):Narrative Symmetry as the Sculpting Tool for John’s Christology
Scott Hamley, Bethel Seminary

An Earthly Entity: Trans-(local)-church Unity in Ephesians
Ross Jahnke, Bethel Seminary
Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
Eric Vanden Eykel, Marquette University

Session 2: Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Presider: Michael Chan, Luther Seminary
Beauty, Power and Attraction: Aesthetics and the Hebrew Bible
David Penchansky, University of St. Thomas
Two High Priesthoods? Evidence for Changes in the Priesthood from First to Second Temple
David J. Larson, Marquette University
Weeping as They Went: The Implications of Viewing 2 Sam. 15: 23-30 as a Literary Unit
Juan Miguel Betancourt, University of St. Thomas

Session 3: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Religion
Presider: Jim Kroemer, Marquette University
St. John Chrysostom and His Message of Social Justice for Us Today
Joel Cassady, St. John’s University
The People vs. The Mice: Animal Ethics that Worked
Rebecca Proefrock, Lutheran School of Theology—Chicago
The Contemporary Black Church and Economic Development
Lawrence H. Williams, Luther College

Session 4: Religion, Arts and Culture: Religious and Cultural Intersections in the Multicultural Midwest
Presider: Kimberly Vrudny, University of St. Thomas
Magical Children, Meddling Elders: Paradoxical Patterning in Contemporary Pagan Cultural Transmission
Murphy Pizza, University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee
“We Dance So That the People Will Live”: Modernity, Tradition and Cultural Performance in the Contemporary Intertribal PowWow
Dennis Kelley, Iowa State University
Intersections of Filipino Culture, Ritual, Theology, and Symbols of Resistance in Anton Juan’s Plays El Flamenco Senaculo and Golgotha Theresa Mason, Independent Scholar

Session 5: Ethics
Need Presider
Conscientious Objection: Judging Which Beliefs and Convictions Count
Joan Henriksen Hellyer, Mayo Clinic/Luther College
“Why Should I Care?”: Responding to the Genocide in Darfur
Stephen Pattee, St. Mary’s University, Minnesota

Ethics as Lived Faith: Bonhoeffer’s Changing Forms of Political Involvement as Personal Faith Responses
David M. Gides, Christian Brothers University

Session 6: Religion and Science: Science, Theology and Scripture
Glen Enander, South Dakota State Univeristy
The Monism-Dualism Debate Regarding Humanity: Handling the Data of the Bible
Douglas S. Huffman, Northwestern College (Minnesota)
The Scriptures and Science: The Value of the Bible in a Science-Dominated World
Vincent M. Smiles, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University
Science and the Eternal Clarity of Scripture—Basic Issues
Dennis Bielfeldt, South Dakota State University

Session 7: Undergraduate Session #4
Presider: Elna Solvang, Concordia College—Moorhead
Mother Teresa: Abandoned by God or Model of Markan Discipleship?
Logan Richman, Concordia College—Moorhead
Jennifer Lind, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire
Ashley Anderson, Augustana College

Session 8: Religion and Ecology
Presider: Marguerite Spencer, University of St. Thomas
Beyond Ecocentrism: Examining Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic Through a Theological Lens
Jeff Reed, St. John’s School of Theology
Global Warming and the Ethics of Virtue
Nancy Menning, University of Iowa
Vaishnava Ecology: Lessons for the Future from an Ancient Faith
Virajita Singh, University of Minnesota

Plenary Speakers:

Dr. Joel Kaminsky teaches courses on the Hebrew Bible and on ancient Jewish Religion and Literature in the Religion Department at Smith College where he also Co-Directs the Program in Jewish Studies. Kaminsky received his doctorate in 1993 from the University of Chicago and came to Smith College in 1997 after teaching at a number of other institutions including: St. Olaf College, Muhlenberg College, Whitman College, and Loyola University of Chicago. Professor Kaminsky was a Visiting Fellow in the Durham University Department of Theology and Religion in 2006, as well as serving as a Visiting Associate Professor at Yale Divinity School in 2007. His research interests include narrative and theological analysis of the Hebrew Bible as well as an abiding fascination with Rabbinic techniques of biblical interpretation. He is the author of two books and one co-edited collection of essays and has published a number of articles and many book reviews in various scholarly journals. His most recent book, Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election (Abingdon Press, 2007) examines the idea of chosenness in the Hebrew Bible, and explores how this central and pervasive idea both unites and divides Jews and Christians.His first book Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) explored the topic of intergenerational punishment.
His next independent project will be a theological commentary on Judges for the OTT series being published by Cambridge University Press.

Dr. Frederick Denny is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies and the History of Religions at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Among his many publications, two of the most widely recognized are the college textbook An Introduction to Islam (3rd edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005) and his work as lead editor for the second edition of the Atlas of World Religions (Oxford University Press, 2007), succeeding the late Ninian Smart who edited the first edition. Denny earned degrees from the College of William and Mary and Andover Newton Theological School, with an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and a Certificate in Advanced Arabic Studies from the American University of Cairo. His lifetime of teaching has included appointments at Colby-Sawyer College, Yale College, the University of Virginia, and Colorado (Boulder), plus Fulbright-sponsored teaching in Indonesia and Malaysia, through which he has observed, supported, and nurtured the development of a new generation of Islamic scholars. Denny also has been fully involved in responsibilities within the American Academy of Religion, serving eleven years on the AAR’s national board, as president and regional director of the Rocky Mountain Great Plains Region, and in extensive committee service to the profession.